MATCH REPORT | Southport 3 – 2 Wrexham
If the old year had ended with a whimper for Southport with defeat at Wrexham, then the new one began with a bang.
Having conceded a last-gasp goal to lose at the Racecourse Ground on Boxing Day, this time it was the Sandgrounders’ turn to leave it late as Liam Nolan scored two minutes from time to earn Steve Burr’s team a dramatic win.
Trailing as early as the sixth minute, Southport led at half-time thanks to a debut goal from Delial Brewster, the Everton under 23 striker whose loan signing was confirmed ahead of kick-off.
But the star for Southport was Nolan, whose eventful afternoon saw him score the initial equaliser and set up Brewster, before conceding a penalty and grabbing a delightful winner.
Rory McKeown broke down the left before sending in a cross which was touched down Andrai Jones, allowing Nolan to secure the points by rifling in a powerful finish from outside the area.
Nolan’s winner came at a time when it was Wrexham who were in the ascendancy, but the result is important, taking the Sandgrounders back out of the Vanarama National League relegation zone.
With Brewster, the 19-year-old arrival from Everton, given a start in attack, Burr’s team adopted a new shape with three central defenders and Andrai Jones given a free role behind Brewster and Jamie Allen, the front two.
It took the Sandgrounders time to settle into their formation and they conceded an early goal, Gerry McDonough bringing a save from goalkeeper Magnus Norman after he had put the ball through the legs of Jack Higgins before Jordan White converted the follow up.
Wrexham had started well but Southport played their way into the game as the first half went on and they equalised through Nolan.
The visitors failed to clear a right-wing corner from Ryan Higgins, leaving Nolan to stab home the loose ball.
With quality and goalscoring chances difficult to come by, the first half was a slow-burner, but Southport’s improvement continued, Jamie Allen sending a swerving shot narrowly wide after a slip from Rob Evans.
And the Sandgrounders went in at half-time with a lead, Brewster marking his debut with a goal after receiving a pass from Nolan on the left side of the Wrexham area before steering a measured finish past goalkeeper Shwan Jalal.
Having gone in front, Southport could have extended their advantage soon after the re-start, Allen outpacing the Wrexham defence on the counter-attack but he was unable to get a shot away before an excellent recovery challenge from John Rooney.
It set the tone for an open second half and after a period of good pressure from Wrexham, Rooney restored parity on 67 minutes, dispatching a confident penalty after Nolan had tripped McDonough.
That was the cue for a strong finish from the visitors but it was Nolan who had the final say.
Southport (3-4-1-2): Norman, Aaron Jones (McKeown 71), J Hggins, Thompson, R Higgins, Weeks, Nolan, Ashton, Andrai Jones, Allen (Caton 61), Brewster.
Subs not used: Springthorpe, White, McKenna.
Wrexham (4-3-1-2): Jalal (Dunn 46), Barry, Riley, Tilt, J Evans, Smith, Rooney, R Evans, Rutherford (Powell 19), White, McDonough.
Subs not used: Bencherief, Bailey-Nicholls, Harry.
Referee: Steven Rushton
By Alan Jones